Gillian Weston – March 2022 – #IWD

Each year, we celebrate some of our COGS, on International Women’s Day, who have inspired us and continue to do so.  This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias and the stories, for this year, definitely relate to that.

Gillian joined us and was one of our quieter COGS who continued to grow and learn throughout the last 5 years she has been with us.  Her story is inspiring, her determination and propensity to help others is wonderful to see and if you read further, you will see exactly what we mean because throughout the time that Gillian has been with us, she is now inspiring others to get into the game.  Gillian is breaking the bias and here is her story…….

“Gillian Weston – Inspired to Play Football”



I am of the generation where ‘girls didn’t play football’ despite being a tomboy I was expected to be ‘girly’.  I used to have a kickabout with two friends at primary school and my Dad took me to watch Crystal Palace play but other than that there were no opportunities.  I was allowed a football scarf but not a Palace shirt, which I would have loved!

I joined COGs in 2017 having taken a few months just to pluck up the courage to email Carol for details! I was very nervous that first evening but I was made to feel welcome, and the lovely Karen Jupp took me under her wing.  It took me a long time to feel anything approaching confident, and even now I sometimes suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’!

However, football came into my life at a difficult time, my Mum’s health was deteriorating, and getting out on the pitch for an hour once a week gave me the break I needed from the anxiety and worry about her.  Mum passed away in 2018 and football again gave me that weekly and much needed boost to my mental health as I struggled with my grief.

In the ensuing years I played in tournaments and slowly developed my skills so that I really enjoyed playing, and I progressed from beginners to intermediates.

During lockdown I was encouraged by Tracey Thornton to do the FA Playmaker Course, which is the first stage coaching certification.

Gillian, Kerry and Tracey (l-r) who have become firm friends since they joined COGS.

It sparked an idea that I would love to be able to set up a Women’s Recreational Group in my village – Storrington.  I asked my friend (and fellow COG) Sarah Osborne if she would be willing to help me as she is a very experienced coach.  We started with an afternoon session on the Rec, in September 2021, which was not well attended.  We then learnt that there was going to be a 3G pitch installed next to our Leisure Centre, and we approached them about an evening session. They were incredibly supportive and in January 2022 5 women joined us, 6 weeks on and amazingly we have 18 local and enthusiastic women on our register.  They range in ages and abilities.  I am so grateful to Carol who has supported and encouraged me throughout the inception and I look forward to our first match against COGs.

Football inspires: That feeling you get when you kick a ball, when you first wear a football shirt, when someone says you have played well is the best feeling ever. Football has given me confidence in all areas of my life, as it gave me self-belief.  It enabled me to advocate for my Mum, stand up for myself in difficult situations, get fitter with other activities, and be empowered to leave my job and pursue a vocation I am passionate about.  Football has given me some great friends who are there for me on and off the pitch and that means everything.

So from being a non-playing woman in her 50s as I approach my 60s I am a Footballer and Coach, with my own team!  I couldn’t be more proud or happier.  Find your footballing feet and you will find yourself!!!

Tracey & Gillian getting warmed up!

Ps. I do now have a Palace shirt!!